"Fans of Oliver’s Delirium will appreciate this story of a girl subverting social strictures through forbidden relationships, but the wild chase scenes and richly developed characters make it a sure sell across the board."--BCCB "This book could not have been more perfect."—Kaci Carpenter, teen YALSA reviewer
About the Author
Katie Kacvinsky worked as a model and as a high school English teacher before deciding to write full time. She currently lives in Corvallis, Oregon. The trees in Oregon were the inspiration for her story. Awaken is her debut novel.
Katie Kacvinsky writes teen and new adult fiction novels published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Her books have been nominated for YALSA awards, and First Comes Love was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award. She currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin. She owes most of her writing inspiration to traveling.
Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky takes place in a world where most spend their entire lives inside their home. Interacting with others only through a computer screen. Because many years ago terrorism and violence made people unwilling to venture outside their homes and thrilled when digital school (DS) was implemented and required. Maddie whose father is the founder of digital school has been under lock and key since she helped an opposition group get the passwords to take down the digital school system and has reformed her ways if not her beliefs. She meets a boy online and plans to meet him face to face at a study group. He encourages her to get out and experience the world without the barrier of computers.
Your Mom called, she wants you to stop texting and read this book.
Awaken takes place in a world where being on the computer all day is encouraged and face to face interaction is rare. It's a great exaggeration of how many in the present live their lives, this dystopian world that the author created was believable and well crafted. Maddie was a nice heroine with a rebellious streak. Although, there were times when I wanted to smack her because she was unable to see that she was being used. There were several fantastic car chases which made for entertaining reading.
Appropriateness: Maddie is rebellious and has no problems selling out her family for her cause. She sneaks out, lies to her parents, breaks the law, runs from police and meets strange men in person that she met on the internet. There are a few club scenes with no drunkenness and the sexual content is limited to kissing. Maddie is almost 18 and her love interest is 20. While there is a lot of law breaking and bad behavior the message is fantastic encouraging kids to step away from the computer and talk to people face to face. I would place the interest level at 13+
The year is 2060. Maddie has been going about her life, doing and experiencing everything on screens: chats, school, study groups, even exercise, until she meets Justin in a study chat room. He invites her to come to a face to face study group, and gradually Maddie begins to question her lifestyle that has practically eliminated face to face interactions.
Her father is the head of DS (Digital School) and advocates this lifestyle, whereas her mother clings to some of the old ways and introduces them to Maddie as well, by giving her a journal, with real paper and in which she has to use old-fashioned longhand to record her thoughts.
Dystopian literature, showing a society in the future that has taken a turn for the worse, is very popular in YA literature now.
I'm usually amazed at the creative details and imagination that the authors come up. That was definitely true in AWAKEN, but because I have read a lot of dystopian literature, it didn't seem wholly original. The ideas of rebellion against a status quo and technology taking over routine life are common in the genre, but where I do think that AWAKEN stands out is by causing us to take a look at our own digital lives. How much of our interactions are online instead of person to person? How much does that palm sized screen in our hand detract from real experiences while we are having them?
CONTENT NOTE: YA covers such a wide range, so as a mom, I always appreciate knowing about content. This novel has some profanity (not a lot, but some), and some heavy kissing. My 7th grade daughter read it and enjoyed it, but I definitely wouldn't recommend it for anyone younger than her age, and I think that high schoolers will relate to the themes of diverging from your parents in beliefs, figuring out your future, and learning to think for yourself.
The premise for Katie Kacvinsky's Awaken is very timely with today's technology-minded culture: Imagine a world in the future so technology-obsessed and fearful that people no longer leave their homes. How would people interact? How would they learn, live, and love? I admit that I love dystopian romance, and Awaken has some beautiful passages and quotes that I wanted to immediately write down. However, the world in Awaken lacked consistency in its design, which overshadowed other positive aspects.
The whole premise of Awaken is that the world got so bad, so violent that a safe life became a digital life led mostly from the isolated comfort of your home. This premise has so much promise--I love it. However, the novel begins with Maddie riding a train to play real soccer with a friend. If the world has become such a scary place, why does Maddie later also ride a public train by herself at night (something I won't do even in 2011)? The novel says the world is so awful that everyone lives a digital life and shuns face-to-face interaction, but then it contradicts itself throughout with parties, benefits, and public appearances. It felt very incongruous at times.
And what supposedly lead to the downfall of society? Online school. Seriously? School violence became so bad that Digital School became mandatory, and somehow that lead to the destruction of personal interaction. I just was not buying that this is how we got there. The protestors (or terrorists) all want to bring down Digital School, but I failed to make the connection of how Digital School is responsible for the supposed woes of the world. Yes, everyone seems a little too obsessed with their computer, but is free online school really responsible for all of this? Will bombing Digital School really make it all better?Read more ›